Gathering of the Whakapapa by Witi Ihimaera

Gathering of the Whakapapa by Witi Ihimaera

The people of New Zealand have really a long history with lots of bright moments. Maori lived on this land for many centuries. And the heart of the culture of this nation is Whakapapa. She is remembered not only in old books, but also in folk stories, ethnic music and many other things. But in this story there are no books and music. There is only one tired old man who keeps in mind the culture of his people. Once the phone rang in the office. The man picked up the phone – it was his grandfather. He asked his grandson to take a week off at work. The man said that the boss would definitely not approve of this, but the old man said that it was important. The grandson realized that he would have to take a vacation and go to another country. The boss was not happy with such a request, but agreed. A new trip was waiting for the man.

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Gathering of the Whakapapa by Witi Ihimaera

The Maori people of New Zealand have a long, long history, and at the heart of this is the whakapapa, the genealogy of families, which begins in the shadowy past and reaches forward to the present. The whakapapa lives not just in books, but also in the memory, and the names and the stories are chanted aloud like music.

Gathering of the Whakapapa by Witi Ihimaera

But in this story the books are lost and only one old, sick man holds the whakapapa in a his memory. It is time to call a favourite grandson home to help…

The phone rang at work. It was Dad, ringing me in Wellington from Waituhi, my wbanau.

‘Can you take a week off work?’ he asked.

‘But Dad!’ I answered. ‘If I take any more time off, my boss’ll go crazy!’

‘It’s your Nani Tama,’ Dad said. ‘He wants you up here, son.’

‘What for now?’ I asked.

‘Here, you ask him,’ Dad said.

The phone went silent, but I could hear Dad saying to Nani Tama, ‘Old man, you’re just trouble to hint.’

Then Nani Tania’s voice called to me.

‘Is that you, mokopuna?’

‘Yes, Nani,’ I sighed. ‘I’m here.’

‘I need you, mokopuna. I need you.’

And when I heard his soft voice repeating those words, I knew I would have to go to him.

‘All right, Nani.’

‘I need you to help me. The work is almost finished now, mokopuna. The whakapapa is almost done. But I must go to Murupara to finish it. I want you as my driver, not the other fullas. Too fast for me, ay.’

‘Don’t you worry, Nani. I’ll come.’

I went in to see the boss.

He took one look at my face and said, ‘Not again!’

‘I’m sorry,’ I said. ‘My grandfather wants me. So I have to go, I just have to.’

For some time now, Nani Tama had been busy. After the whakapapa, the genealogy of the village, was destroyed, he began to write it all down again…

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